Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: March 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Baptism. Are We CERTAIN?

For some years, I have been asking folks why we have to be baptized, to join an SBC church. No one has ever given me the right answer. (I presume I know the right answer and I think you'll agree if you read on....).

I have asked Sunday School teachers, singly and in a meeting. Nobody knew.

I have asked Deacons, in a meeting and otherwise. Again, wrong answers.

Once asked a Professor, from an SBC Seminary. Nope.

A table of preachers at an Executive Board meeting. Again......

I mentioned this, addressing the convention from the floor, in New Orleans. Despite the fact that I may have been somewhat familiar to the messengers, owing to prior episodes of speaking to the assembled convention on several issues, no one offered the answer for the rest of the convention days.

So .. what's the right answer? It's found in the Baptist Faith and Message, which states: A New Testament Church of the Lord Jesus Christ os an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers ..."  Yeah ... it's just that simple. Our only consensus statement of faith say that a church is baptized believers.

Further, in the Section of the Baptist Faith and Message  which deals with "Baptism and the Lord's Supper", it states: "Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."

That's a clear statement, to me, yet I simply have not asked anyone who ever knew what our fundamental statement of faith says.

And we don't buy "sprinkling", either, as that's not what baptizo means. Plain and simple. Admittedly, those folks who sprinkle seems to say that it represents something other than death, burial and resurrection; it represents the coming of the Holy Spirit. Only trouble is, that sure doesn't seem to be immersion, or "baptizo".

What really brought me up short this past weekend was a realization ... call it a revelation if you will ... about the day of Pentecost. And about Peter's response to the crowd's question which followed his 3 minute sermon. They asked “Brothers, what must we do?”  “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." In order:
  • Repent ... That means a change of mind, a change of thinking, which produces a change in actions.
  • Be baptized in the name of Jesus ... we seem to have that down pat.
  • For the forgiveness of your sins. 
  • You will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
Hmmm ... baptism for the forgiveness of sins? That sure seems to be what it says. AND ... keep in mind this was the first time in the history of the earth that the following conditions were true:
  1. Jesus incarnate.
  2. Jesus crucified.
  3. Jesus buried.
  4. Jesus resurrected.
  5. Jesus ascended.
  6. The Holy Ghost descended to earth.
  7. The Holy Ghost indwelling believers.
I would expect Peter's answer to be the clearest, most concise and instructive of any in the history of Christendom, as it was the very first given to those seeking salvation under the new covenant in Jesus' blood. I mean, Peter was unencumbered by any of the traditions of man which can influence our positions, our beliefs, and our actions in many areas of our thinking. SO......

FIRST BIG QUESTION: What were those people, who were being baptized, thinking was happening by their baptism?

SECOND BIG QUESTION: What were those, who were doing the baptizing, thinking they were doing, when they immersed them; what were they thinking was being accomplished?

As I understand it, the baptizers' reasons and positions on these matters affects whether SBC churches, entities, and the SBC itself recognize one's baptism as valid. Interestingly, it was the IMB flap over that, and unknown tongues, that got me interested in Blogging, and in All Things SBC, over 10 years ago.

Did Jesus actually start building the church .. the ekklesia ... with people who would not qualify for membership in all those entities I just mentioned?

I think He did!

I wonder: are we on the wrong side of that one?

Friday, March 04, 2016

Teaching. And My Computer.

Buried over on the left end of my desk, hiding behind my HP 8601 Printer and some arts and crafts supplies, is my HP Computer. It's what I'm typing on right now, via my Logitech wireless keyboard.

I've had it for so many years that I don't remember how many years I've had it. Of course, at my age, that could be two or three.

Anyway, I recently upgraded the operating system to Windows 10. And I get along with it just fine ... it does everything I want to do with my computer.

Every now and then, Microsoft updates the operating system. Most of the upgrades go unnoticed, except for my sitting quietly while it tells me it's about done.

That got me to thinking a few days ago. When the system is updated, I don't just use the new part of the program ... the part that was updated. Those upgrades go into the system and then, next time I'm using the computer, I use everything the computer has.

The added information, or capabilities, help me do what I need to accomplish, perhaps improving on what I could do before the upgrade.

Now for the Spiritual buzz I got from this: my experience with the computer is a lot like teaching Sunday School. We sit down with our lesson material and prepare our lesson, with the material to guide us. Then, in the class, we teach the lesson from within ourselves, including all the Spiritual resources already there. Over time, that should be building, thus making us more effective teachers of the Word.

Some time ago, someone with connections to Lifeway ... and the old Baptist Sunday School Board ... told me that the teacher's material was designed to help the teacher in preparing the teacher's lesson, based on that material. What the teacher then teaches, in the class, would similarly feed into the Spiritual lives of those in the class, who have prepared for the lesson by reading the members' quarterlies.

At least I think .... make that I hope .... that's how it works. I fear that too many teachers may simply present the material contained in the teacher's manual, thus bypassing what should be a Spiritual storehouse in the teacher himself.

We unconsciously use all the resources our computer needs to do what we need to accomplish, when we're at our computers. Let's be sure and do the same, when we're in front of our Sunday School classes.